The WRU has announced that the three men brought in as interim coaches for Wales Women will stay in post through to the World Cup. They are Ioan Cunningham, Geraint Lewis and Richard Whiffin, assisted by Sophie Spence, the intern.
This is a sensible move to ensure stability and a degree of certainty for the players.
Of the trio Cunningham has been declared head coach. That too is an important step, since it was not made clear with the previous interim trio (Chris Horsman, Geraint Lewis and Gareth Wyatt) who exactly had the last word.
The squad will move into the new training centre at the Principality Stadium which was created specifically to overcome problems caused by Covid-19. They will still play their matches at the adjacent Arms Park, though it would be nice to think that one day the players could enjoy using the main stadium for their internationals.
Nigel Walker, the newly installed Performance Director for WRU, has stayed true to his word. He knew immediate action was needed to right past wrongs; this is a first step.
The WRU was looking for a permanent appointment as head coach; we can only assume that that search is now delayed till post-RWC.
And the Players
It will take a while for Cunningham and Whiffin to familiarise themselves with the programme and the players, though Lewis and Spence will provide an important bridge. Lewis is recalled after doing duty before Warren Abrahams’ appointment.
It would be nice to think that the players will now be able to thrive in this new environment. Large numbers of them have been playing outstandingly in the Prem 15s in England. It just needs a seamless transition back into the Welsh setting.
The three internationals matches they face are nicely graded:
Sunday 7 November v Japan
Saturday 13 November v South Africa
Sunday 21 November v Canada
On their last tour to Europe two years ago Japan caused an upset against Scotland with two late tries to snatch a win 24-20. They play at high speed, requiring the opposition to keep their defensive systems firm when they lose possession.
South Africa probably won’t have developed sufficiently to redress the 2-0 loss they suffered at home to Scotland two years ago, but Canada will provide the big test. If the Welsh can hold the Maple Leafs’ great strength up front and their pace and dexterity out behind, they will know they are on the right path.
There is serious competition for starting places in this group.
The Wales squad:
Siwan Lillicrap (capt), Abbie Fleming, Alex Callender, Alisha Butchers, Bethan Dainton, Bethan Lewis, Caitlin Lewis, Cara Hope, Caryl Thomas, Keira Bevan, Cerys Hale, Courtney Keight, Donna Rose, Elinor Snowsill, Ffion Lewis, Flo Williams, Georgia Evans, Gwen Crabb, Gwenllian Pyrs, Hannah Jones, Jade Mullen, Jasmine Joyce, Jess Kavanagh, Kat Evans, Keira Bevan, Kerin Lake, Leanne Burnell, Liliana Podpadec, Lisa Neumann, Madi Johns, Manon Johnes, Megan Webb, Molly Kelly, Natalia John, Niamh Terry, Robyn Lock, Robyn Wilkins